Page last updated at: Fri, 27 May 2011 11:29 AM BST Printable version

Save the '48 Velodrome

by Ellinor Thunberg

Cyclists at the Herne Hill track The velodrome in the Olympic Park is ready for 2012 — but across London, campaigners are fighting to save the Herne Hill Velodrome, used in the 1948 Games.

This structure, rich in Olympic history, needs a heavy investment of finance and resources for its restoration and survival.

Double Olympic Legacy

Herne Hill Velodrome Trust chair Hillary Peachey said: “I got involved with this campaign after my kids took up cycling at the track.” With the Games approaching, she saw a unique opportunity to create a double Olympic legacy.

“When sporting facilities are in such short supply it would be a crime, with the focus on legacy, to allow a 1948, well-used velodrome in the heart of London to close,” she said.

The 2012 Olympic velodrome, and the new BMX Circuit, make up a VeloPark that will cater to a cross-discipline of cyclists. After the Games, the park, located in East London, will be owned, funded, and managed by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.

Peachey said: “We are working with Lee Valley to ensure the two velodromes are working together for the future generations of cyclists.”

Big budget boost

While the new East London bike park had a £93 million budget, the first step in the restoration at Herne Hill will be taken by British Cycling, investing £300,000 to resurface the track. After that, the trust, which was recently granted charitable status, will raise £25,000 for seed funding, and £5 million to develop the site further.

British Cycling and the Dulwich Estate landlords of the site have agreed terms for a 15-year lease on the track. Ian Drake, British Cycling’s chief executive officer, said: “We are delighted that the lease is nearly signed, and British Cycling is now in a position to resurface the track. This should give a real boost to the Save the Velodrome campaign, and they can now focus on raising funds for a new pavilion.

“A lot of work still remains to be done, but we are optimistic that the future of Herne Hill Velodrome will be secured for the benefit of cycling in the capital, and help develop the next generation of Olympic champions.”

Velodrome’s future back on track

Hopkins Architects, the designers of the new venue for 2012, are also involved in the plans for Herne Hill.

Architect Mike Taylor said: “Together, these two Olympic cycle centres complement each other and offer London a wonderful opportunity to re-establish itself as an important destination for track cycling.”

The campaign to save the last remaining finals venue from the 1948 Olympics has already attracted celebrity supporters such as 1948 medallist Tommy Godwin, Stephen Fry and British fashion designer Paul Smith, along with the local community and cyclists from all over Britain.

The Facebook page, Save the Velodrome, has over 6,000 supporters, and the venue still plays an important part in the community, 63 years on from the last London Games. Maybe it finally has a future.


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